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This Is How This Mexican Mom From Oaxaca Is Running Successful Mole And Michelada Businesses

Bricia Lopez is am an entrepreneur who is helping her family’s business thrive. It was in the early 1990’s that Bricia, then only 10 years old, moved with her family from Oaxaca, Mexico to Los Angeles. Her father, Fernando, had a dream and a goal of providing Oaxacan Angelenos a taste of home with his restaurant Guelaguetza. Now housed in the first Korean-styled building in Koreatown (according to Bricia), Guelaguetza is still thriving under the management of Fernando’s children including Bricia. They handle the day-to-day operations of Guelaguetza as well as their own Oaxacan-inspired online businesses Mole And More, I Love Micheladas, Super Mamas Podcast, and their very own online store I Love Mole. Bricia sat down with mitú to talk about what it means to be in charge of a restaurant catering to regional food and becoming a boss-level woman in the hyper competitive food industry.

Tucked away in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, you’ll find Guelaguetza, an authentic Oaxacan-themed restaurant that has been thriving for more than 20 years.

Christina Henderson
CREDIT: Christina Henderson

“People from Oaxaca have a very specific relationship to food where food is your life. Everything surrounds food. Family, celebration, death, everything has to do with food,” Mexican-born restauranteur Bricia Lopez told mitú. “

[Guelaguetza] is our home and we serve the food that we grew up with. It’s not fancy food. It’s not fusion food. It’s not new Californian food. It’s not new Mexican food. It’s not innovative. It’s just traditional food that I grew up eating, just very high quality. So, that’s how the menu of the restaurant was inspired. Just foods that we grew up eating off the road [in Oaxaca]. Everything you find here at the restaurant is what you can find in Oaxaca.”

The restaurant has been passed down from founder and father Fernando Lopez to his children. Bricia said that the transfer of power left her with a stunning message from her father about the benefits of being a woman and a boss.

Christina Henderson
CREDIT: Christina Henderson

Bricia admitted to mitú that when she first took charge of the restaurant, she was often looked as the “daughter of” Fernando. She longed to be seen as the boss and she asked her father for help getting that respect since he is the one who started the restaurant. His response? He told her she would have to work for it.

“He told me, ‘I wish I was a woman because you guys have so much power,'” Bricia recalled to mitú.

Christina Henderson
CREDIT: Christina Henderson

Bricia continued: “He said, ‘You guys are so much smarter than us. You guys just have so much more ability and can also be so nurturing. You need to understand that what you have is very powerful. As a woman you are ahead of every man that you meet. So you need to understand that it’s a plus. You need to learn how to navigate your womanhood and take advantage of it and earn people’s trust. I can’t give you that.’”

Bricia also learned that it was important to treat employees as family, which she says comes naturally to her.

Christina Henderson
CREDIT: Christina Henderson

To Bricia, taking charge of the restaurant meant embracing all the employees as her family because all of them are working to a common goal: the success of Guelaguetza.

Bricia shared that very early on, she learned that success to her is all about being purpose-driven.

Christina Henderson
CREDIT: Christina Henderson

“Understand why you are doing everything that you do. When you are purpose-driven, it is not about the to-do list,” Bricia told mitú. “It is about achieving a bigger thing that can get ten things out of the way. It’s about deciding if this thing that you are doing is taking you a step into your purpose or away from it and if it is taking me away from it, then why am I bothering with it.”

Bricia argues that it is not enough to just set a to-do list and just do them because you think they need to be done. What has helped her succeed is making sure that everything she has been doing had the result of taking her closer to her purpose and goal.

This purpose-driven, just do it attitude has translated into the Lopez children launching a handful of online businesses that were born out of Guelaguetza.

Christina Henderson
CREDIT: Christina Henderson

Guelaguetza and the Lopez siblings are helping to bring Oaxacan flavors and culture to people across the country from mole to micheladas to Oaxacan clothing (in the Koreatown restaurant). Bricia told mitú that it was a no-brainer to sell their products online to fans and Oaxacan expatriates living in the U.S.

“We just did it,” Bricia told mitú about launching their online store.

Christina Henderson
CREDIT: Christina Henderson

“We Googled everything and found out how to do things,” Bricia told mitú. “I feel like so many times people make things more complicated than they should be. Like, it’s not that complicated. People were asking us for the micheladas. We’ve been serving the micheladas since we opened. People would come in and ask if they could buy the mix from us so we would fill up empty tequila bottles and sell them and they would come back every weekend. By then, we had opened our online store where we shipped our mole so we started thinking about what else we could sell in our store.” That’s when I Love Micheladas was born.

As a mother, Bricia understands that sometimes things can get pretty hectic, but that should never stop you from achieving your dreams.

Christina Henderson
CREDIT: Christina Henderson

“I think for mothers, the number one thing is to understand that it’s okay to ask for help,” Bricia advises for any mother looking to start or grow their own business. “Latinas, especially moms, feel like because their moms raised four kids as immigrants with nothing and they cooked every day. I honestly don’t know how they did it. We feel like we have to do the same thing, we can’t complain, we can’t have these issues, and we can’t feel pain or ask for help because we have to be able to do everything by ourselves, which is not true. We need to remember that our moms who were able to do all that have a community around them of primas, of support.”

“You need to understand that you need to take care of yourself first and then you can take care of everyone else,” Bricia said of being a mom and a businesswoman.

Christina Henderson
CREDIT: Christina Henderson

“You just need to find whatever makes you happy and do whatever make you feel a little selfish and look to take care of yourself because when you’re happy, your family will be happy,” Bricia continued about being a mom and entrepreneur. “A lot of moms don’t do that. Latina moms don’t take care of themselves. It’s like, first is my baby, then it’s my husband, then are my friends, then it’s my business, then there’s this, and at the bottom of all of this, is me. What kind of mother are you going to be if you put yourself last? What kind of wife are you going to be if you make yourself last? What kind of friend are you going to be if you put yourself last?”


READ: This Latina Wasn’t Going To Become Another Starving Artist So She Built An Empire Using Social Media

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At 78-Years-Old, This Oaxacan Woman Learned To Read And Write And Even Authored An Award-Winning New Book

Things That Matter

At 78-Years-Old, This Oaxacan Woman Learned To Read And Write And Even Authored An Award-Winning New Book

Jorge Fernandez / Getty Images

It’s never too late to follow your dreams. It may sound cliche but one Indigenous woman from the Mexican state of Oaxaca is showing just how true that sentiment really is.

Although growing up knowing how to speak her native language of Náhuatl, she was never able to read or write it – let alone Spanish. Now after years of studying and being too embarrassed to attend classes, this 78-year-old woman can say that she achieved her dream and is now an award-winning author.

Despite being illiterate for years, Justina Rojas has finally finished primary school.

Justina Rojas Flores, a resident of the Oaxacan community of San Miguel Espejo, learned to read and write at 76. She remembers that at first she was embarrassed to attend her classes, but with the support of her teachers sh was motivated to learn the alphabet and words and communication.

In fact, she became so motivated that she’s recently authored a handmade book that earned her a national award. She recently told El Sol de Puebla, that “I was already cracking under pressure because I was cheating a lot, but the teachers told me ‘yes you can, Justina’, so I continued taking classes and it was thanks to them that I learned. After two years, I wrote La Mazorca, which is dedicated to the community of San Miguel Espejo.”

In her Indigenous language of Náhuatl, Rojas shared the history of La Mazorca, which emphasizes the value of appreciating all things – especially that which the land gives us.

“I beg you, if you see me lying on the ground, pick me up, don’t step on me. Just as you take care of me, I will take care of you,” is part of the story in the book that was awarded in 2019 by the State Institute for Adult Education (IEEA), an achievement with which Rojas feels accomplished, and with which motivates other people to enter the competition.

Rojas is proving that it’s never too late to learn something new.

Now, at 78-years-old, Rojas is able to celebrate her achievements. Though she admits that many in her community continue to doubt her real motivation. It’s common to hear people ask ‘Why do I learn if I’m old?’, ‘What use is it going to do?’, and ‘I’m on my way out so it doesn’t matter.’

But many of the people who ask these questions are the same people who don’t have the same opportunities, since they can’t read or write. According to figures from the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval) in Rojas’ community, there are around 2,267 inhabitants, and the majority are living in poverty, a factor that significantly influences educational access. Many, from a very young age, leave school to work to support their families and take jobs working in the fields or construction.

Finally, Rojas wants everyone to know that they should not limit themselves and to embrace knowledge regardless of age. “If you don’t know how to read and write, or if you know someone like that, I invite you to go where they teach, so that those who know more can share their knowledge with us.”

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Chicago’s Mi Tocaya Is Offering Up Free Mexican Homemeals For Undocumented Community

Culture

Chicago’s Mi Tocaya Is Offering Up Free Mexican Homemeals For Undocumented Community

mitocaya / Instagram

Undocumented communities are being left out of Covid relief plans. Chef Diana Dávila of Mi Tocaya in Chicago is working to help undocumented restaurant worker in the time of Covid. Abuse of undocumented workers is rampant in certain industries and Chef Dávila hopes to offer some kind of help.

Mi Tocaya is a Mexican restaurant in Chicago’s Logan Square that wants to help the community.

Covid-19 has devastated the hospitality industry with restaurants being hit exceptionally hard. Restaurants have been forced to close their doors for good as the virus dragged on with no decent relief plan from the federal government. As several countries financially support citizens to avoid economic disaster, the U.S. government has given citizens $1,800 total to cover 10 months of isolating and business closures.

Namely, Mi Tocaya is working to help the undocumented community.

Mi Tocaya, a family-run restaurant, is teaming up with Chicago’s Top Chefs and local non-profits Dishroulette Kitchen and Logan Square Neighborhood Association. The goal is to highlight the issues facing the undocumented community during the pandemic.

The initiative called Todos Ponen, is all about uplifting members of our community in a time of severe need. The restaurant is creating healthy Mexican family meals for those in need.

”We asked ourselves; How can we keep our doors open, provide a true service to the community, maintain and create jobs, and keep the supply chain intact by supporting local farmers and vendors. This is the answer,” Chef Dávila said in a statement. “I confidently believe The TODOS PONEN Logan Square Project addresses all of the above and can very well be easily implemented in any community. Our goal is to bring awareness to the lack of resources available to the undocumented workforce- the backbone of our industry.”

The initiative starts in February.

Mi Tocaya is offering 1000 free meals for local farmers and undocumented restaurant workers. The meals are available for pickup Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 2800 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647. to make this happen, Mi Tocaya also needs your help.

The restaurant has teamed up with two nonprofits to make sure that they can scale their operation to fulfill their commitment. They are also asking for donations to make sure they can do what they can to help undocumented restaurant workers.

According to Eater LA, 8 million restaurant workers have been laid off since the pandemic started. Some restaurants have had to lay off up to 91 percent of their staff because of Covid, about 10 percent of those are undocumented. In the cities, that number is as high as 40 percent of the laid-off restaurant staff are undocumented.

“People don’t want to talk about the undocumented workforce, but they’re part of our daily routine in most restaurants,” Jackson Flores, who manages the operations of Mi Tocaya, said in a statement. “They are in the toughest position in the whole economy because they’re an invisible part of it. Restaurant worker advocacy groups have added the creation of relief funds to their agendas, but there have yet to be long-term changes in protections for undocumented workers. Without access to unemployment benefits and other government resources, this group is especially vulnerable.”

READ: Hands-Free Cholula Dispensers Have Become a Thing In Restaurants Because of COVID-19

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